September 19, 2013

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Two Saturday's ago a text came through from my friend.

“I’m getting a group together for brunch,” he says. “you should forget about your agoraphobic ways for a few hours and come out!” By “agoraphobic” ways, he meant my social anxiety, which rears its head in most alcohol free social situations. I hesitated. I did have a free Sunday, but the thought of a group of ten nearly-strangers.

“What’s the occasion?” I wrote back.

“I’ve decided to join the church of brunch,” he writes. I snickered at the response. Being a 20-something in New York is all about weekend brunches, and happy hours and being out late. In my mind I’m 55-years-old, or older. I devote Sunday evenings to Prokofiev, my underwear is gigantic and granny-like, I refuse to abbreviate my texts, and consider Tumblr disgusting. You say “party” and I say “how do I make up an excuse?”

I gave myself 20 minutes to think of a response, and then decided that it would be good to do something I was afraid of. I told him I’d go.

I dragged myself out to Brooklyn at 10 am that Saturday for the brunch party. For the first time I rode the Q train over the Williamsburg Bridge. I looked back at Manhattan behind me. It’s the kind of sight I’ll never get tired of. The morning light, the fog, the rain, the snow, Manhattan always looks like all my dreams come true. In the shadow of a cityscape my nerves momentarily dissipated.

Congruous to my real age, I did my massive, gluttonous brunch, laughing so hard with the new faces that my stomach muscles needed a day to recover. I left clicking my heels together on the train ride home saying, “Gee that wasn’t so bad.”

That very Thursday following my writing group I had plans to go home and climb in bed. A fellow writer and one of the group members pointed north down Avenue A.

“My friends’ having a birthday party right down the street at a karaoke bar,” she said. “you should come.”

Normally this kind of request would send my heart racing, but after a successful social week, I took one look at the time, 9 pm, and shrugged. “Why not.”

We arrived outside the bar and I shook hands with 10 completely new group of faces. The birthday girl, as tradition, always has a dinner in the East Village then goes to Sing Sing for karaoke. A bottle of champagne was given to us by the bartender. He put the mike to his mouth.

“I just bought you guys a bottle of champagne,” he said nonchalantly.

Everyone cheered.

“I’ve never sang karaoke,” I told my friend. “I want to someday.”

The crowd packed in by 10 pm, and I was laughing and singing along to epic 80s tunes, but was too scared to actually take the mike. I’ve often day dreamed about singing karaoke but can never think of a song to pick and hate the sound of my voice.  At the climax of “Turn Around” the whole bar was singing and cheering and laughing. Though I was afraid to even sing with them, I was feeding off the energy of the room. I never imagined that was how the rest of my Thursday would turn out.

I opened my phone and wrote as a memo: “Every youth should be spent in New York City.” I firmly believe it.

I got on the bus and went home, the second my foot hit the door to my apartment my writing group friend texted me. “Thanks for coming,” she’d wrote, and if she had read my mind, “one day we will sing.”